Spectra® Fiber Strengthens 745-Foot Vancouver Sculpture by World-Renowned Artist


Watch The Making of Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks

Spectra® fiber strengthened the ropes used in a next-generation sculpture, Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks, by world-renowned artist Janet Echelman. The sculpture made its world premiere at the TED conference’s 30th anniversary in Vancouver, British Columbia earlier this year. While known for creating massive kinetic sculptures that respond to wind, light and sun, Echelman has never before created a sculpture of this size. The sculpture was presented with an original, interactive work created in collaboration with artist Aaron Koblin, Creative Director of the Data Arts Team in Google’s Creative Lab. Visitors were able to choreograph the lighting in real time using physical gestures on their mobile devices.

“When I began planning for a sculpture of this size, I knew Spectra fiber would be a critical component in helping me achieve my artistic vision. The fiber gives my work the strength it needs, but allows me to create a structure that is light and delicate so that it moves with the wind.” – Janet Echelman

Photos by Ema Peter. Provided by Studio Echelman.

Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks

Key Sculpture Stats:

  • 3,500 pounds
  • First installation suspended 745 feet
  • Strong enough to sustain winds of up to 96 miles per hour
  • Light enough to attach to existing buildings and be transported around the world

The sculpture was made of soft materials only. As a material fifteen times stronger than steel by weight, Spectra fiber acted as its greatest support. Using Spectra fiber enabled the artist to attach the sculpture to the buildings and structures around the Vancouver Convention Center plaza without any additional reinforcement, which made the sculpture appear to float amid the buildings and over water.



Watch this time-lapse video to see the installation of this Spectra fiber-based sculpture in Amsterdam

Spectra fiber has been used in several of Echelman’s previous works, including her sculpture 1.26, which draws inspiration from the February 2010 earthquake in Chile that shortened the length of the earth’s day by 1.26 microseconds by slightly redistributing the earth’s mass. To date, 1.26 has been installed on four continents: North America, Asia, Australia and Europe.

1.26 Stats

  • Made of Spectra fiber and colored lighting
  • 80 ft. long x 60 ft. wide x 30 ft. deep




Janet Echelman under her sculpture, Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks
Photo – Todd Erickson

Janet Echelman creates monumental, moving, fluid sculpture environments that respond to wind, water, sunlight and lighting at night in urban landscapes. In Vancouver, she added the dimension of interactivity from her sculpture’s viewers, as part of the TED conference’s 30th anniversary.

Ms. Echelman likes to examine the potential of unusual, unlikely materials in her works. Her public works need to withstand all of the outdoor elements, so Spectra fiber is often a perfect fit for her work. She combines fine, traditional craft with the latest technologies for an experience that is indescribable, although many have tried to explain her art’s affect.

Recent works:

  • Her Secret is Patience – 2 city blocks in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Water Sky Garden – Premiered at the Vancouver Winter Olympics
  • She Changes – Porto, Portugal
  • Every Beating Second – San Francisco Airport Terminal Two
  • 1.26 – Denver, Sydney, Amsterdam and Singapore (made with Spectra fiber)

Listen to Ms. Echelman’s TED Talk here